FOGSI recently concluded a two-day summit on women’s health and empowerment in India. The Aarogya Mahila Summit, supported by Abbott India and Global Health Strategies. The summit was inaugurated with a lamp lighting ceremony by Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare; Ashwini Choubey, Minister of State (MoS), Health and Family Welfare; Nandita Palshetkar, President, FOGSI and Meena Agnihotri and Dr Hrishikesh Pai, Joint Summit Convenors.
Dr Vardhan spoke at length about past and ongoing government collaborations with FOGSI in addressing women’s health issues. He said, “FOGSI’s passion for serving people and their consistency in addressing women’s health pro-bono is unparalleled. Through a meeting of minds and a meeting of actions between FOGSI and the Health Ministry, we can address many issues together, such as ending maternal and under-5 mortality, anaemia and family planning. We are planning to launch new initiatives and we look forward to your support in order to ensure health for all.”
The summit brought together the private sector, associations, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Niti Aayog, NGOs such as Jhpiego and international organisations such as USAID, WHO, UNICEF, MSD for Mothers together to discuss a diverse set of issues, including family planning, reproductive rights, maternal and child health and non-communicable diseases, set against diverse backdrops of legislation, quality care and research.
Highlighting the need for private sector participation in women’s health, Ambati Venu, Managing Director, Abbott India said, “Women play a vital role in maintaining the health of their families, yet often neglect their own well-being. With unique needs spanning gynaecological conditions, hormonal disorders, reproductive health, pregnancy, menopause, cardiovascular conditions and diabetes, women’s health requires a focussed and specialised approach. By addressing these needs holistically across the spectrum of awareness, detection, treatment and management, healthcare companies play a critical role in helping to find solutions to some of these problems. Abbott is committed to helping women live healthier and better lives and to make their health a priority. For many years, our portfolio has been offering innovative and effective medicines with the aim of enhancing the quality of life of women affected.”
The representatives from the ministry urged FOGSI to engage and collaborate on national initiatives such as adopting aspirational districts, promoting family planning in high fertility districts, supporting IEC on maternal and newborn health. International organisations expressed desire to collaborate on evidence generation, advocacy and capacity strengthening of healthcare providers.
Many of the conversations were centred around various national policies and government initiatives for medical education and women’s health. Dr Palshetkar elaborated on FOGSI’s vision and the organisation’s commitments to the nation in her capacity as FOGSI President. Talking about reproductive rights for women, one of the main things on FOGSI’s agenda, she said, “Years of gender inequality has meant that a woman is still not in control of her own body and her health. This is where the role of advocacy and education are crucial in empowering women with choice, freedom and autonomy to make decisions about their own body. Organisations like FOGSI can contribute immensely in offering non-coercive, non-judgmental services to advance women’s reproductive rights. Above all, we need to highlight the unmet need of one in five women who do not have access to contraception and safe abortion — which contribute significantly to maternal and neonatal deaths every year. In order to address this issue, it is essential that we reach that last mile by providing and safeguarding reproductive rights for women.”